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NATO's eastern flank countries gather in Riga ahead of crucial July summit

B9 countries meeting in Riga, Latvia, on June 11 2024
B9 countries meeting in Riga, Latvia, on June 11 2024 Copyright LVLT via EBU
Copyright LVLT via EBU
By Alessio Dell'Anna
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The Bucharest Nine (B9) group was created in the wake of Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.

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NATO's eastern flank countries, also knows as the Bucharest Nine (B9),have gathered in Latvia's capital Riga ahead of the crucial July NATO summit in Washington.

The B9 event features officials and leaders from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, plus NATO's newcomers Sweden and Finland, as well as its Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The head of the alliance, Stoltenberg, will leave his post in October and has been increasing calls to support Ukraine in the past few months.

On Wednesday he's going to be in Hungary to meet Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has so far denied any military assistance to Ukraine.

Countering Russia's threats to NATO took precedence on the agenda. In addition to military concerns, participants highlighted the dangers posed by hybrid warfare.

Polish President Andrzej Duda said, "the Polish border with Belarus is seeing once again the weaponisation of migration" by the Kremlin to put pressure on Europe.

"We are aware that the same tools are being used right now against other states from our region." he added.

The final statement of the event also voices concerns about the growing ties between Russia and China, which, as noted in the press release, "attempt to undermine the rules-based international order, contradicting our values and interests."

"We call on all states to uphold the international order, including the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, as enshrined in the UN Charter and to abstain from supporting Russia’s war effort in any way, and to refrain from any action that helps Russia circumvent sanctions."

Regarding Ukraine's NATO membership, the host country of the B9 summit, Latvia, has reportedly dismissed the possibility of extending an invitation at the July meeting in Washington.

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